Directed by Etan Cohen
Written by Jay Martel & Ian Roberts and Etan Cohen
For years, Will Ferrell has ruled atop the comedy kingdom, creating quite the legacy of hit comedies from his time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, and expanding on towards his own massive career in the movie industry. His career as we know it, however, may begin to wind down just a little bit. His trademark immature humor is impinging upon his growing age, which creates a dichotomy which grows more and more tiresome and less and less believable. I have no doubt his roles will evolve to fit his age as the public demands more comedy from Ferrell. Kevin Hart, on the other hand, has a career which is just blossoming. To pair these two comedy giants for the first time seems like a perfect pairing for a great comedy and a box office hit. With Get Hard, they take a step into the batter’s box, but instead of hitting a home run, they manage a measly single (which is at least far better than a strike out).
Get Hard is all about stereotypes, which is why we see Ferrell playing James King, a multi-millionaire hedge fund manager. He lives an over privileged life in a Bel Air mansion, which according to his stunning younger fiancée (Alison Brie) is too small. Soon his world is turned upside down when US Marshalls come to take King away for fraud. After being convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, King is given 30 days to set his affairs in order, a time he takes to employ his car washer Darnell (Hart), whom King simply presumes has been to prison because he is black, to prepare him for his time behind bars. With the 30 days, Darnell, who needs money in order to buy the house of his family’s dreams, does everything he can think of to get King hard, and ready for prison life.
For a premise built on the concept of discrimination and broad stereotypes, Get Hard promises to be as offensive as it sounds, and therefore is not a film made for those sensitive to such topics. While Cohen and his team of filmmakers include many racial slurs and lewd language and situations, the final product plays out as a satire of the current racism and discrimination in the US, but that makes it no more comfortable of a process to sit through. Be prepared to be offended, but also be prepared to laugh. By capitalizing on the outrageous double standards and limiting social structure of our society, Ferrell and Hart provide a framework of social commentary in the form of comedy. In many ways, they capitalize on the stupidity of our culture by mocking the criminally rich, ironically, with stupid humor.
When compared with the works of these great comedians, I find that Get Hard lands somewhere strikingly in the middle of their bodies of work. The median of this catalogue is far funnier than many other comedians collected works, however, and as such it remains that Get Hard is a quality comedy (quality being used loosely, it’s no Citizen Kane, but it’s also no Grown Ups). It provides solid, yet unmemorable laughs. I managed to enjoy myself while also completely forgetting the specific jokes that made me laugh by the time I drove home afterwards. It’s a film that takes a shot at corporate America, a concept I am sure much of middle America is happy to see, but its impact extends no further than mild entertainment for those affected by such bandits as James King, its commentary hidden among the comedic set pieces allowing for Ferrell and Hart to puff out their respective comedy chests.
Not as good as something like The Campaign, Get Hard occupies much the same space, while extending its reach beyond just fans of Ferrell to fans of Kevin Hart. The two are undeniably funny, and funny together, but pairing them together brings two powerhouse performers together for a chance to make magic. Instead, it seems the film was rushed into production with the assumption that these two, Hart and Ferrell, would not only make the movie happen by themselves, but that even if they didn’t it would still sell startling well to the public. That much is true, it’s sure to make plenty at the box office, but I would like to give the two another shot at making a comedy that is truly great, as both are blessed with tremendous senses of humor, whose talents can be better cultivated with a better script and a better sense of direction than what is seen in Get Hard. Alas, a few laughs and an enjoyable night out will have to suffice for now.
*** – Good